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Valley teen loses 50 pounds to fulfill dream of serving her country

For months, Jaimie transformed her diet and dedicated to an intense workout routine.
Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 24, 2022

Jaimie Rodriguez reflects on her journey from Army recruit to newly minted Private 2nd Class.

“In like elementary, middle school, then going to high school, I would see military and I thought they were so amazing, I felt like that was going to be me one day,” said Jaimie now 19.

It was an admiration that led her to a recruitment office in Phoenix off 35th Avenue and Northern.

Inside, she would have a heart-to-heart conversation about how to achieve her dream.

“She was already like this is what I want to do and I said ok,” said Army Recruiter Sgt 1st Class Vincent Sotello with a chuckle.

Sotello explained the benefits of military service, what to expect, but also broke the news, Jaimie would have to lose weight to meet their requirements.

At the time, the high schooler was 210 pounds and would need to get down to 168.

“He’s like yeah, you need to lose weight, these are all the things about the army you should know so I’ll pick you up tomorrow. Let's go run, let's start, and that day I’m like he’s not serious,” said Jaimie with a smile.

“You have to have that determination, I used to always preach Army values to her, never quit, never accept defeat,” said Sotello.

Sure enough, she did show up. Every single morning before school Sotello and the high school senior would run up North Mountain together just as the sun began to rise.

“We started off lightly, and I told her, as long as you're committed and continue on, I’m going to keep pushing you and eventually we’re gonna get from the bottom to the top of the mountain,” said Sotello.

“It was like four in the morning every day. I set multiple alarms to make sure I got up,” said Jaimie. “I would run in the morning. Work out at the gym in the evening and jump rope in my room before bed.”

For months, Jaimie transformed her diet and dedicated to an intense workout routine. Tracking her progress with weekly weigh ins.

“He believed in me, it felt like more than anybody he believed in me,” said Jaimie.

Jaimie’s final weight, 163. A loss of nearly 50 pounds.

She’s now finished basic training and is in the best shape of her life. Making sure the person who stood by her every step of the journey knows her gratitude over FaceTime Monday.

“I just want to tell you, thank you for everything you did for me, I’m very grateful, and you always tell me it wasn’t you, but I don’t think I would have been able to do it without you,” said Jaimie.